The Hot Blog Archive for June, 2007

RIP JS

I was around town last night without my laptop and right now, I am about to go on the road for 4 hours, but… before I disappeared again, I wanted to send a shout out to Joel Siegel, who passed away after a very long fight with cancer at the to early age of 63.
I grew up with Joel and a couple of years ago, he started reaching out via e-mail… always unexpected, always a strong point of view, always a decent man.
More later…

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Box Office Hell – June 29

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Merde That Meets The Eye

When there finally is some Transformers Autobot chatter … seems like more than an hour of waiting for it … it is cheesy as hell. But it is also what we wanted. It’s like the world’s worst Shakespeare coming out of the mouth of robots, that no matter how complex and numerous their parts, still don’t read as human-like beings. Each is a caricature … and again, great. There’s the severe leader with a strong sense of humanity. There is Mr Fix It. And there is The Negro, the comedic robot from the “hood.” (And you know what happens to the funny Black guy in all action movies, right?) And it is crazy and lame and stereotypical … and FUN! That is the fun. And we have all to little of it.
The rest…

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Die Hardest

Box Office Mojo is reporting that Fox’s number on Live Free or Die Hard for Wednesday is $8.87 million. That puts the film in position to gross between anywhere between $90 million and $150 million domestic… which is to say that all it tells us is that the film isn’t a monster… good monster or bad. Inconclusive.

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The Summer Just Got A Little Weirder

Burger King… corn dogs… ice cream… Mountain Dew…
The perfect 9-year-old’s menu for the opening night party. And when the food fits the movie, eat the food… unless it makes you sick.
(Plenty of free booze too… the adults needed it… though I really felt for the many women in see-through garments who realized about 90 minutes before the party that they were both outclassed by the clothed T&A of the film and unnerved that they dressed like sluts for a movie better suited for a pair of jeans and hair pulled back for a playdate screening after they landed – and perhaps divorced – the men their evening wear was meant to trap.)
Transformers is one of DreamWorks’ more expensive children’s animated films. But Badagascar did $193 million domestic and Cars did $244 million domestic, so Transformers can do $200 million too. The big advantage of those films is that they weren’t insufferably long with unneccesary exposition designed to seek the females and adult males who will never come… unless they have visitation next Saturday and need to score points with the kid.
And stupified congratulations to Kurtzman & Orci, who have absolutely lived up to the promise of Mission: Impossible III here. ($398m worldwide)
I’ll review the film on Friday, but the goofy degree of charming excess found in Live Free or Die Hard were not revisited here. More like another classic summer action film with a ton of CG, a classic character, and a $380 million worldwide gross… Godzilla.

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Smart Ass Ts

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The source

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Die Hard Falls Down, Goes Boom

I’m a guy who likes good junk. I’ll laugh through Eight Legged Freaks or Lake Placid and go with that flow. This film is junk. There is not a director (nor a judge nor a producer nor a P.A.) on On The Lot who could not have done as well as Len Wiseman with this budget. But I laughed. I laughed a lot. It was horrible, but not offensive (outside of the odd interest Wiseman shows in hitting women in the face really hard, no less than four times in the film). So maybe it will hurt so good for a lot of audiences, not limited to teenage boys who just want to see stuff blow up and to take a few minutes to consider feeling Mary Elizabeth Winstead up.
Maybe.
But I’ll take Transformers to block.

The rest…

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Kinda Love This One Sheet

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Jodie Foster sexy… tag line serious… Neil Jordan genius… hope.

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Clarifications

The last couple of days, I have found myself being “corrected” on a couple of things that I left myself open to via the use of my personal mental shorthand.
I am not thrilled with people who want to tell me what I think and assume that exy explanation is an “excuse.” But what can a guy do… I put myself in that position too.
The first thing was a detail… the questions around a sequel to The Chronicles of Narnia. The story was simple. Anchutz had been pretty clear that he wanted his company, with distribution by Disney, to make 2&3 together, a la The Matrix and Pirates sequels.
As things worked out, even though Andrew Adamson had publically made it clear that Prince Caspia would be the next in the franchise, it was just under three full months before Disney and Walden announced the greenlight. This is not normally how one establishes excitement for a sequel. The movie’s start did not assure sequels… its legs ultimately did, especially in international territories, many of which didn’t open day-n-date. In addition, they backed off the two-for-one plan, though it is possible that a part of that was Disney being mid-Pirates sequels, finding that expected economies were not so money saving.
That was what I was thinking about when I wrote, “barely made enough to get the second film greenlit.” And indeed, the legs and international of the film (almost $750m ww) made it a very good bet.
But also consider this, as you raise your pitchforks… $600 million worldwide for a movie that expensive is not a lock for sequels anymore. Remember, you/re talking about $300 million-plus invested in production and marketing… so thought $600 million assures profits in Home Entertainment and ancillaries, a sequel drop like Shrek The Third, much less Evan Almighty could mean a money loser. (The huge advantage Shrek has on the other two of this summer’s Big Three is that it can be made cheaper and cheaper… and is talent really going to lose a huge payday for doing voice over, so long as these films are theatrically released? Can’t wait to hear the direct-to-DVD replacements! Connelly/Cedric/Swank?)
But yes, I should have been more careful and specific.
The second case was my non-review for The Kingdom.
I find it surprising that so little detail – reviews for movies I really like tend to be a lot longer in a lot more detail – is being taken as a review. But more importantly, when it comes to embargo, I answer to the studio, not my readers. And here is what the studio wrote…
“Enclosed is a list of long-lead screenings for THE KINGDOM (Sept. 28, 2007). Would love for you to come and see the film – and you are fine to write about the film but just not review it. Is that ok with you?”
Yes.
I also read the NY Times piece on the movie, which was a lot more detailed than what I wrote. After a decade dealing with Universal, I understand what they were asking of me and why. I wrote inside those rules.
The headline was a bit of smartassity, speaking to this forever game of working inside and outside of the lines. There are other exchanges on this that I still consider private, so I will not expose them. But again, not a problem on a professional level in any way.
However, I do understand why some of you might assume I was skirting the rules in some way. I was not. But I suppose it is my responsibility to make that 100% clear, especially since I do feel free to comment on how these games are played, regardless on who is involved.
Even though I don’t want to have to explain myself to death all the time, enough people have spoken to this issue that I have to concede that I was not clear enough about my actions.

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See The Kingdom

This was the perfectly normal request from Universal Studios upon being invited to see The Kingdom three months before release. I was not alone in the theaters. Other writers will soon speak up. And there will be at least three more screenings before we get to a month before its September 28 release.
It

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Oy!

Evan Almighty is a film that is going to underperform.
Fine.
This spin on the spin that it has a lot to do with “faith based marketing” is making me NUTS!
The notion that a studio, even with a budget of $175 million, was relying on Christians to come out to make the film a giant grosser is INSANE!!!!
The Chronicles of Narnia, which was a much more natural religious fit, barely made enough to get the second film greenlit. No other film since Passion of the Christ has done much at all based on pitching to Christians – though a bunch of films have hired Christian marketing groups to push their films – and Universal knew that. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t take the shot at that market. But it has become like some sick little not-enough-to-write-about joke that everytime a studio includes Christians in their marketing plan, the media starts hyping it up as their PRIMARY marketing plan.
You want to know why I get crazy about coverage

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Gossip or News?

Facing the prospect of a public trial early next year, Koules and Shapiro recently settled their dispute, an attorney for Shapiro said last week. Terms of the settlement were confidential. But based on public records, child custody, alimony and child support were not issues in the case

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Just Wondering…

Am I the last person on earth to know there was what is supposed to be a major global event in 13 days?
One of the creators of Live Earth was at LAFF today with about 50 shorts made about the environment under their auspices and was talking about this being the most watched TV show in history, etc…
And I had not heard a single word. And 7-7-7 doesn’t seem that hard to promote.
Maybe it’s me…

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Ratting With Giacchino

A double dip with the great Michael Giacchino, who scored The Incredibles and Ratatouille for Brad Bird, The Family Stone for Tom Bezucha, and The Full JJ (Abrams) with Alias, Lost, Six Degrees, Mission: Impossible III, and soon-to-come, Star Trek: The Next Iteration.
MikeG is one of Hollywood’s good guys. See him work in this MCN Exclusive Disney behind the scenes on scoring The Rat. And then…

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Andy Jones Memorial

From Andy’s Brother…
We are hoping to pull things together for a memorial on Saturday, the 30th of June, in Long Beach at 1 PM. We have a pastor in the family who has a small church down there. I want to invite EVERY friend of his, I do not want to keep this a private affair, as he could not be contained either!”
As soon as the details are finalized, I will send out an update.
If you would like to send flowers, condolences or anything else to Andy’s family, you can to:
Anna or Arnold L. Jones
1471 E. Fairifield Ct.
Ontario, CA 91761
I know they will appreciate any sentiments or prayers as this has been an especially rough few days for them.

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“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948

“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson